A Macular Degeneration Carol

We all know the ol’ Christmas story, A Christmas Carol, about Ebenezer Scrooge. You know, the guy who hates Christmas because it highlights his own unhappiness and brings back memories of times he’d rather forget.

Throughout the story, Ebenezer is visited by the ghosts of his past, present, and future, in order to teach him a lesson about a life, wasted focusing on what went wrong in his past... instead of what’s going right in the present.

Macular degeneration is my Tiny Tim

Another important character in this story is Tiny Tim, a sick child with a disability who is able to see all the good surrounding him even though his life is anything but easy. At first glance, one would think this young character would be sad and unable to see past his struggles, but rather, he’s the exact opposite. He’s the bravest and happiest of all the characters in the story, teaching Scrooge and the rest of us that there is so much joy to be had in life... no matter what.

Over the years, I’ve been able to learn how to view my macular degeneration as a catalyst to live a better life. My diagnosis is my Tiny Tim. I’ve intentionally decided that I absolutely will NOT allow macular degeneration to steal my gratitude and everyday joy. Despite the struggles I experience with my vision on a daily basis, I am determined to live my best life and not let the ghosts of my past interfere with my future.

Ghosts of macular degeneration’s past

Like Scrooge, things in our past can rear their ugly heads in our present lives. The ghost of his past showed him how unhappy his circumstances were, and consequently, he was in his early days. We come to find out, this unhappiness followed him through his entire life causing him to be this ungrateful, hateful, and downright unhappy all the time.

His audience may have seen it coming, but he sure didn’t. I mean, grumpy people are often called ‘scrooges’ because of this classic character’s inability to find joy in his life. I’m here to remind you to not be a scrooge. Don’t be like Ebenezer in his past. Sure, we all have these really difficult things looming over our heads called losing our vision and being uncertain of our futures. But allowing that worry and grief to take over our entire lives isn’t going to serve us well in the end.

Ghosts of macular degeneration’s present

In ‘A Christmas Carol,' the ghost of Scrooge’s present shows him all that he is missing out on in the ‘now’. He sees a Christmas gathering where his loved ones are happy and celebrating... but he’s missing out because he allowed the complications of his past to control him. This is where he starts to see that he CAN change his perspective and his life... and if he doesn’t, he’s in for a real disappointment in his future.

Again, don’t be like Ebenezer in his past, but do try to be like Ebenezer as he sees that things don’t have to be so hard and grim all the time. We all have so much life to live and so much joy to experience in spite of our struggles.

Ghosts of macular degeneration’s future

In the story, Scrooge is terrified of his future. The ghost of his past shows him a sad and lonely death to come. For me, one of the scariest aspects of macular degeneration is someday looking back on my ‘seeing days’ and wishing I had done more. Or experienced more. Or appreciated more. Or felt more joy. Or, or, or...

My point here is, we can’t change what is happening to us. We can only change how we respond to it. I’m choosing joy this holiday season AND every other ‘regular’ day of the year. I really hope that you’re all able to do the same. That doesn’t mean that every single day or every single moment will be happy and easy. It just means that most of our moments can be.

What we can all learn from this classic story

The moral of the story, for me, is all about regretting not finding the joy in the present. Allowing our past to take over our ‘now’ really has the frightening potential to make our futures miserable. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to allow macular degeneration (or any other hardship in life) to steal the joy from my now or my future.

There would be nothing more remorseful for me if I’m being completely transparent. This journey through time teaches Scrooge the error of his ways and I think we all could benefit from learning this lesson as well… before it’s too late.

Christmas wish

My Christmas wish for us all is that we find joy in the everyday moments, live a life of gratitude for all that we DO have, not let the hardships of macular degeneration 'bah humbug' our futures, and look back on our pasts in pride instead of regret.

“A Merry Christmas to us all. God bless us, everyone!” - Tiny Tim

Andrea Junge

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